LT. GEN. Ernesto Torres Jr. formally took over as the Commander for Northern Luzon during the change of command ceremony presided by the AFP Chief of Staff Gen. Andres Centino at Camp Aquino, Tarlac City on Monday.

Lt. Gen Torres, who recently was donned to the third-star rank, was the former commander of the 10th Infantry Agila Division.

It was under his leadership that the troops successfully dismantled three guerrilla fronts in the command's area of operations in Mindanao and neutralized a total of 280 members of the Communist Terrorist Group including multiple terrorist high-value targets in just a span of eight months.

The AFP statement said that Torres also served as commander of the 1003rd Infantry Brigade that oversees Davao City, and parts of Davao del Norte and Bukidnon, the unit that arrested personalities such as Bayan Muna Representative Satur Ocampo and ACT Teachers Party-list, Representative France Castro, in addition to the successful dismantling of Guerrilla Front Committee 54, and three NPA formations in the unit's area of operations from 2017 to 2019.

"Through the whole-of-nation approach spearheaded by the NTF-ELCAC, we shall endeavor to aggressively support the programs to end internal dissension through a progressive and sustainable campaign that would address its root causes," Lt. Gen. Torres said.

The North Luzon Command (Nolcom) is the AFP unit responsible for protecting the biggest maritime area in the country calls for extra attention to its regional situation, protection and development in its territorial waters.

"We shall likewise contribute in maintaining the country's sovereignty and territorial integrity, particularly in the country's northern borders," he added.

Gen. Centino lauded the committed service and accomplishments of Nolcom under the leadership of Maj. Gen Andrew Costelo, the outgoing commander who took the added responsibility on top of his duties as the Commander of the Joint Task Force Kaugnay.

Gen. Centino also emphasized that the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) now entrusts the commandership of the "Vanguards of the North" to Lt. Gen. Torres who has all the credentials, skills and knowledge to usher lasting peace and sustainable development for people of Northern Luzon, as well as enforce the country's sovereignty on our northern borders.

"I am confident that Nolcom will deliver more victories and successes to the AFP as it continues to fulfill its mission of combating terrorism, facilitating development and securing our borders in the North," said Gen. Centino as he reminded the troopers of their mission to end the local communist armed conflict before the end of President Duterte's term.